Police and protesters clashed in the streets as the country hosts a World Economic Forum meeting in the capital Buenos Aires.

Protestors are sprayed with water by Argentine police in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Protestors are sprayed with water by Argentine police in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Police used water cannon and tear gas to control protesters in Argentina during marches over the country's spiralling recession as labour unions challenged President Mauricio Macri in the first general strike since he took office 16 months ago.

The protests came as the country hosted a World Economic Forum meeting in the country's capital Buenos Aires with the attendance of hundreds of potential investors and foreign officials.

Teachers, factory workers, airport employees and the government customs agents who run Argentina's all-important grains export sector went on strike at midnight for 24 hours.

"The situation is dramatic," Julio Piumato, a spokesman for labor umbrella group CGT, said, adding that "wealth is being concentrated in the hands of a few at the same rate that poverty is growing."

"Urgent measures are needed to create employment. One out of every three Argentines is poor."

TRT World spoke to Monica Yanakiew in Buenos Aires for the latest.

Macri eliminated currency and trade controls and cut government spending, including gas subsidies, a move that steeply pushed up home-heating bills.

In October, Argentina will hold a congressional election that will gauge Macri's strength going into his 2019 re-election bid.

The market is concerned about a political comeback by previous President Cristina Fernandez, who boosted the government's role in the economy during her eight years in power.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies